Legacy trust fund down $25 million 

Whistler venues receive less this year

The trust fund that will fund Whistler's Olympic legacies post-Games declined roughly 16 per cent last year, dropping in value by $25 million.

The fund, which had a balance of almost $125 million at the end of 2007, was valued at just under $100 million at the end of last year, according to the recently released and audited 2008 financial statements.

"We had an uncharacteristically severe decline in equities around the world last year," explained James Bruce, chair of the 2010 Games Operating Trust (GOT) Society.

The decline was expected on the heels on the current worldwide financial crisis.

A loss of that magnitude, however, means there is less money available to fund the Whistler Sliding Centre and Whistler Olympic Park this year, as well as the Richmond Oval. Last year the Whistler-based venues, which are operated by the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Games (VANOC) until after the Games, received almost $2.5 million. This year they will get just over $2.2 million.

This is the maximum that can be drawn out this year.

Paul Shore, marketing and business development manager for Whistler 2010 Sport Legacies - the organization that will run those venues after the Games - said they are planning for swings like that in revenues when they take over operations.

"We have to plan for fluctuations like that," said Shore. "It's a bit difficult but it's still within a pretty tight range."

He is still refining the business plans for those venues, which are expected to bring in their own revenues as well as operate off of money from the GOT fund.

The GOT investments are split equally into equities and fixed income. If the money had been all invested into the equities market the fund would have seen a loss in the range of 30 per cent.

Bruce explained that though the equities market is more volatile, over time it has a superior return on investment over fixed income.

"We're trying to manage it (the fund) so that it outlasts the facilities," said Bruce.

The GOT was created with $55 million from both the province and the federal government, for a total of $110 million. It is divided equally between the Richmond Speed Skating Oval and the two Whistler venues, with a separate fund for contingencies.

At the end of 2006 the fund was as high as $131 million.

Since its inception, more than $10 million has been given out to the Whistler venues and the Richmond Oval to operate those venues before the Games.

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